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Revised 1/22/2020

Pineapple Cheesecake with Pecan Praline

Mom saved many recipe clippings from magazines, newspapers, and food boxes.  A favorite appeared in the “Boston Daily Record” newspaper on Friday, October 19, 1956.  Kraft® featured a Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie. Traditional pastry crust had a layer of prepared crushed pineapple, PHALALELPHIA CREAM CHEESE topping and was finished with chopped walnuts.  Their tag line still brings a smile, “Stun your guy with this “Philly Pie” ….”You’ll simply bowl over the Man in your life with this special but easy pie that owes its greatness to (of all things!) a cream cheese.” 

Of course, mom made it often.  She knew it was one of my favorites.  

Mom’s original clipping has a note she wrote to herself to “try using more cream cheese”.  Here’s a cheesecake version of this wonderful desert made in a 9-inch springform pan. Crust is replaced with a complimentary ginger snap cookie crust and thicker layers of crushed pineapple and cheesecake filling.  Cheesecake is made well ahead, frigerated, and finished with a generous topping of old fashion pecan praline. Extra praline is wonderful with cocktails.

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 2 cups of ginger snaps crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pineapple layer

  • 20 oz. canned crushed pineapple with natural juices only
  • 1/3rd cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Filling

  • 2 8oz. packages of cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Boiling water

Pecan Praline

  • 1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Directions

Step 1.  Crush ginger snaps, creating 2 cups of crumbs.  Blend with butter and press onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch diameter spring form pan.  Bake at 325º until just set, about 10 minutes. Cool.

Step 2.  Drain pineapple juice into a small bowl.  Add about a tablespoon of water and whisk with cornstarch.  

Step 3.  In a pot, stir crushed pineapple with sugar.  Fold in cornstarch mixture. Stir over medium heat until clear and thickened.  When cooled, spread mixture over cookie crust. 

Step 4.  For filling, in a food processer or mixer, beat cream cheese with sugar and salt until creamy.  Add eggs one at a time followed by milk and vanilla. When well combined, slowly ladle filling over pineapple being careful to not disturb pineapple.    

Step 5.  Preheat oven to 400º degrees.  Seal the outside of the springform pan by wrapping the bottom and sides with 2 sheets of wide aluminum foil.  Put it into a roasting pan. Place in the oven. Pour boiling water in the roasting pan to about an inch and a half up the outside of the wrapped spring form pan.  After 10 minutes, lower heat to 325º. Bake until the edges puff and the center lightly set, about 60 minutes. Once cooled, refrigerate in the springform at least five hours or overnight.  

Step 6.  For praline, set oven at 325º.  Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the brown sugar until melted. When the mixture begins to boil, let it bubble without stirring for about a minute.  Coat pecans in the pot and place on the sheet covered with foil. The mixture will boil again in about 6 minutes, throughout within 8 minutes.  Cool.    

Step 7.  Slide a thin knife between the cake and side of the pan to release the cheesecake; remove springform pan.  Use a baker’s spatula do the same with the bottom. Slide the cheesecake onto a serving platter. Top with praline.  Cut and serve. 

About the Author

Peter, a member of Harbor Hills Country Club, grew up in Boston’s Italian North End.  His website, www.LuciaTramonte.com, is dedicated to his Mom.  Lucia Tramonte was her maiden name.

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